Giving the world a "new" approach to life
No previous king of Israel was more wicked than Ahab. Yet, when God pronounced judgment on him, he fasted with repentance. God said, “. . . because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days”
(I Kings 21:29).
Fasting and repentance are often associated, because true fasting brings about a spirit of repentance.
Anna’s husband died after seven years of marriage. She did not choose to marry again, but dedicated her life to serving the Lord in the temple. Her service was accompanied by fasting, prayer, and Godly works. She did this for eighty-four years!
When she was about 110, she recognized the baby Jesus, and then traveled throughout Jerusalem proclaiming the Messiah had come. Anna's life is the longest of any that is recorded in the New Testament. There is strong medical evidence that her length of life was related to her fasting. (See Luke 2:36.)
Dr. Thampy PhD, MD conducted a 21 day fast with over two hundred volunteers. It followed a protocol set up by the University of Indiana Medical School.
The fasting increased the immune system of the participants, resulting in many of their diseases clearing up.
God promises marvelous rewards for those who engage in the discipline of fasting. Fasting was practiced by the great heroes of faith, and it is just as relevant today as it was when Jesus urged His disciples to adopt this personal discipline. (See Matthew 6:18.)
During an extended fast, toxins in the body are eliminated, and our immune system is strengthened. This eliminates a variety of diseases. God promises those who fast, “. . . thy light shall break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily . . .” (Isaiah 58:8).
Fasting enables us to focus on a particular problem or crisis, giving us direction and allowing us to see the “bigger picture.” When Nehemiah learned about the deplorable condition of his people in Jerusalem, he fasted for several days. It was during this fast that God gave him understanding concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls, resulting in prosperity to the people through a restoration of their city. (See Nehemiah 1:4.)
Paul explains that, “. . . the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other . . .” (Galatians 5:17). By denying our fleshly appetites, we are able to experience a strengthening of our spirit's power by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went into the wilderness filled with the Spirit, but after forty days of fasting He, “. . . returned in the power of the Spirit . . .” (Luke 4:14).
Sexual desires are greatly diminished during a fast, giving us a greater ability to overcome sexual temptations because our spiritual lives are strengthened. When the disciples were unsuccessful in casting out the demonic spirits in a young boy, they asked Jesus why. He explained, “. . . this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).
Many people assume that our life span is 70 years. For this, they cite Psalm 90:10. However, the context of this verse explains that, because of God’s wrath and judgement, the years of our life are only 70 or 80. One who regularly fasts is likely to live much longer. Many significant studies have revealed a dramatic increase in longevity among animals who have undergone intermittent fasting.
A fast is setting aside all food and liquids (except water) for a period of time. If a person is under a doctor’s care or is taking medication, the doctor should be consulted before a fast is begun.
A fast can vary from one meal to forty days. The nation of Israel turned defeat into victory by fasting only one day. (See Judges 20:26.) Ezra received direction and protection from the Lord after several days of fasting. (See Ezra 8:21-23.) Daniel got a direct answer from God after 21 days of fasting, and Moses received the Ten Commandments during a forty day fast. (See Daniel 9; Deuteronomy 9:9.)
During a longer fast, the temporal cares of this world will fade into insignifigance and the realities of eternity will become much clearer, especially as we combine fasting with other spiritual exercises.
Time will seem like it is slowing down during a fast, and we will tend to think about food. Therefore, it is important to have a variety of meaningful activities to do, such as: reading large sections of Scripture, memorizing verses that stand out, reading biographies of the great heroes of faith, learning and singing classic hymns, writing out insights, or working on booklet or paper.
On the physical level, expect hunger as the stomach shrinks in size and sends signals to the brain to “fill me up." These are not starvation pains, unless the fast goes too long. Toxins will be eliminated from our body and will form a thick white coating on our tongue which may cause bad breath. Also, there will be physical weakness and a greater need for sleep. David testifies, “My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness” (Psalm 109:24).
Most Doctors today have not received training on the procedures and benefits of fasting. Among the medical literature on the subject, many papers do not actually explain the results of a complete fast, but rather, from "portion fasts" which do not bring the same results.